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Michael Cohen says Trump's 'threats against his family' will delay his testimony before the House

"This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first," Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, said.
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WASHINGTON — Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, is delaying his public testimony before Congress "due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump" and members of his legal team, Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement Wednesday.

Cohen, 52, was set to appear voluntarily before the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., on Feb. 7. Cohen is scheduled to report to prison on March 6.

Davis cited threats from Trump and Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, "as recently as this weekend," as well as Cohen's "continued cooperation with ongoing investigations" as central to the decision to postpone his testimony.

"Mr. Cohen wishes to thank Chairman Cummings for allowing him to appear before the House Oversight Committee and looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time. This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first," Davis said.

Davis did not elaborate on the nature of the threats. A source close to Cohen told NBC News that Cohen's wife and father-in-law are particularly scared. "The threats are real," the source said. "Trump knows what he's doing."

In response, Trump said Cohen has "only been threatened by the truth."

"He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn't want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

Cummings told NBC News that he was disappointed by the delay, and called the allegations of intimidation "disturbing."

"He feels that the president of the United States of America and his attorney have not only intimidated him, but intimidated his family," Cummings said, adding that "this is something that should upset every single American. This is the United States of America. This is not Russia."

Asked if he would subpoena Cohen, he said: "I have not decided exactly how we will go about it but I promise you, we will hear from him."

In a joint statement, Cummings and House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., reiterated that while they understood Cohen's concerns, "not appearing before Congress was never an option."

"We understand that Mr. Cohen's wife and other family members fear for their safety after these attacks, and we have repeatedly offered our assistance to work with law enforcement to enhance security measures for Mr. Cohen and his family," the lawmakers said.

"We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances," they added.

In December, Cohen was sentenced to three years behind bars for what a Manhattan federal court judge called a "veritable smorgasbord" of criminal conduct, including making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, lying to Congress about the president's business dealings with Russia and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

Two of the nine felony counts Cohen has pleaded guilty to involved the payments to women, which he helped facilitate in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements to Congress about the scope and status of the Trump Tower Moscow project. Cohen provided the Senate Intelligence Committee inaccurate information about the project so as to minimize links between the president and efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and to give the false impression that the efforts had ended before the Iowa caucuses in February 2016 when they had actually continued well beyond the initial voting.

The White House has denied the affair allegations, with Trump calling his former attorney a liar. Following Cohen's sentencing, Trump defended his efforts to build a Trump-branded tower in Russia while running for president of the United States as "very legal" and "very cool."

Cohen has previously appeared before Congress, but only in closed-door sessions related to the Russia investigation.